by Democrat reporter
More support should be given to the Irish community in Britain according to a report published today by a committee of the British-Irish Inter Parliamentary Body.
More than two-million strong, the Irish community is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in Britain. Although the community includes many recognised as being from the most vulnerable groups in society. the report identifies a clear lack of consistency in the recognition, support and financial assistance provided by British authorities at both national and local level.
The report points out that the Irish community, which in the past made up much of the workforce for the construction and infrastructure of modern Britain and the NHS, now has an aging population, poor health record and high suicide rate. The report calls for specific funding to address these problem areas.
It also explores the ongoing challenges faced by the Irish travelling community and homeless in Britain and calls for more to be done to improve the service delivery by local and national authorities to these groups.
The report also recommends:
- that the Irish community in Britain gives particular consideration to second and third generation immigrants to ensure maximum community integration and to ensure that Irish cultural heritage is not lost from Britain over the next twenty years;
- that that the UK Department of Communities and Local Government and the Office for National Statistics keep and monitor statistics on all identified ethnic minorities, including the Irish, and that these are made clear to all government departments and agencies and future compliance monitored;
- that the media in Britain, in particular the BBC as part of its public broadcasting remit, evaluates how best to represent the Irish community in Britain.
- that schemes such as 'safe home' which helps members of the Irish community in Britain return to live in Ireland are better publicised amongst the Irish community in Britain;
- encouraging the ONS to continue to include 'Irish' in the ethnic minority section of the next census in 2011 in order to ensure that there are accurate statistics on the Irish community in Britain.
The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body was established in 1990 as a link between Westminster and Dublin, with 25 British and 25 Irish members drawn from the Upper and Lower Houses of both parliaments. In recent years the membership of the Body has been extended, with representatives from the Welsh assembly, the Scottish parliament, the Northern Ireland assembly and the parliaments of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
Commenting on the committee's findings, committee chairperson, Lord Dubs, said:
"The Irish Community has made and continues to make a huge contribution to modern Britain. We hope that the local and national British authorities will act on our recommendations and encourage the voices of the Irish Community to be heard in British political and cultural life."
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